The answer to that question is really up to you, depending on your business model, and your timeline. I started off not having to spend much money, something I remember well because I had just been laid off from my job and didn’t have a lot of money to spend. With GreenExamAcadamy.com and SmartPassiveIncome.com, I didn’t spend more than $1,000 a month for the first two years of those businesses. It wasn’t until those businesses started growing significantly that I started to spend more money, and then I had the revenue to support additional costs.
In fact, I wrote a book, Will It Fly?, that is uniquely designed to help people figure out if a business idea is worth pursuing. I’d recommend you read that as a guide during the discovery phase. Thousands of folks have already used Will It Fly? as a tool to help them validate and test their own business ideas before spending money they don’t need to spend. You can pick up a copy at SmartPassiveIncome.com/will-it-fly.
If you're a person who loves leaving customer reviews on sites like Amazon, stop doing it for free. Word-of-mouth advertising is still a huge lead generator for many companies, and a lot of businesses are willing to share a portion of their profits with persuasive individuals who will promote their products to the public. If you have a personal website with a large following, this might be easier to accomplish (PR reps are always seeking out brand advocates they can send free samples to). Smart Passive Income breaks down three types of affiliate marketing and explains which one is most profitable.
Just about any home business with a website can profit by placing affiliate ads on their sites, but there are also many who pursue affiliate marketing as a full-time Internet business in and of itself. The most successful affiliate marketers either use a funnel system or a blog (or both) to promote their affiliate products. Further, they also have an email list.
It wasn’t until 2010, two full years after my initial small investments, when I spent a bit more money for one of the best investments you can make in your business: building an email list. The Email Service Provider (ESP) I used at the time was Aweber, which cost me $194 per year to start (that’s only about $16 per month). Once my email list grew though, the costs increased based on the number of subscribers I had: 26,000 subscribers cost me $181 per month. Aside from the costs, which actually are pretty standard, Aweber didn’t have some of the features I wanted, so I moved on.
You have to post content on a regular basis. People thirst for the new, so make sure you put up articles, videos, or whatever consistently. It could one post per day or three times per week. Whatever it is, maintain the same schedule. A scattershot posting history means losing readers. At a minimum try to aim for one new post, video, or other form of content a week.
To do audio-to-text transcription, you need decent transcription software, a good headset and a word processing programme (Word, OpenOffice, etc.difficult) The biggest challenge for transcribers is to make out words that are difficult to interpret for various reasons, thick accents, fast speech or background noise. Using software can make that process much easier. Examples of transcription software programmes include Express Scribe and Transcriber Pro.
I know what you're thinking. How do you start a webinar business? Well, webinars are quite possibly one of the best ways that you can sell anything online. The best part? You don't even need your own product. Webinar guru, Jason Fladlien, co-founder of Rapid Crush, has grossed well north of $100 million in sales via webinars, which goes to show you the sheer power of this medium for selling.
If managing a blog seems a bit overwhelming but you still desire to indulge your writing passion, you can write for other sites or blogs like PayPerPost, Textbroker, or Helium. Also, writing an interesting e-book may also be an option for you as well. E-books do not have any printing or shipping fees, which makes them a viable investment. If you’re someone who possesses strong language skills, you could potentially become an expert copy editor that webmasters will gladly pay to read and edit articles and also correct any overlooked grammatical errors concerning web copy.
Once you have one or two samples to show prospective clients, it's then time to find some. Sites like Freelancer and Upwork are good places to start out. But you don't need to stick to the same path taken by every other freelance writer. Use some lateral thinking to find clients. Join relevant groups on Facebook or LinkedIn. Have a look for forums dedicated to web development, digital marketing or SEO – there's almost always a “writers for hire” sectio” you can use to find new clients.
If you’ve got gift cards lying around that you never manage to use – maybe you’ve got $50 to Longhorn Steakhouse, but you’re a vegetarian – you can sell them at a discount through gift card exchange sites such as CardCash.com. Once the site receives and verifies the balance on the card (e-cards are obviously handy, but they’ll pay for you to mail in physical gift cards), you can get paid in as little as two days.
The box subscription business has exploded. While it's nothing new, and it's been around for ages now, the overwhelming rise of the internet has breathed newfound life into this online business idea. What is a box subscription exactly? If you think back for a moment to one of the most viral box subscriptions businesses, you'll clearly recall the Dollar Shave Club.
The vacation rental business is booming. While the mere mention of it might make you think about billion-dollar titans like AirBnB or HomeAway, there are niche businesses like Michael Joseph's InvitedHome and Joe Poulin's Luxury Retreats and many others being carved out across a variety of markets. When it comes to vacation rental homes and vacation rental management, companies are earning anywhere between 10 percent and 40 percent on the gross rental rate depending on the location and the management level.
In 2010, I made one of the biggest mistakes of my entrepreneurial journey. I had paid a developer a large sum of money to develop a couple of WordPress plugins I had ideas for. I had seen others successfully create and sell WordPress plugins, and I wanted in on it. But the problem was that I rushed into it. I made the mistake of chasing the money, and didn’t actually validate the idea, or consider who the plugin was for. The result? Nobody wanted them. I didn’t even sell one. I spent $15,000 to get the plugins developed, and they didn’t go anywhere.
I didn’t collect an email list when I built GreenExamAcademy.com or when I started SmartPassiveIncome.com in 2008. That was a huge mistake. It does cost money to build an email list, but it’s worth every penny. I recommend using ConvertKit for this. They have really good pricing, and you pay more as you grow. By far, it’s the best service out there. On SPI TV Ep. 28, I did a full ConvertKit demo you can check out if you’re interested! [Full Disclosure: I’m a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.]
If your business idea requires a shopping cart service, I’d recommend SamCart as a great, inexpensive option. It’s also super user-friendly. If you just want to offer an ebook, they give you the ability to do that. They handle all the credit card processing, payments, and delivery. It’s pretty sweet. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
Through this experience, one thing I learned is that development, and the selling of the product you develop, takes time and money. This is a lesson I took to heart when I built another software company, SPI Labs, with my partner Matt Gartland. SPI Labs is behind the Smart Podcast Player, which was a significant undertaking that started out as a custom solution for AskPat and eventually became a successful WordPress plugin used by thousands of fellow podcasters.
Advertise! Whether you pay for advertising or you trade advertising with related websites and blogs, or you use free search sites, the important thing to remember is to put in the time and keep track of what works. Search out other websites and blogs with similar content and leave comments with your contact info. There are services that will do all the marketing for you for a fee, but to start out, you can do the marketing yourself. Fiverr.com will advertise your website starting at $5.
Set up a merchant account. Service businesses in the past had to generally rely on cash or check—setting up an entire credit card processing system was a thankless, expensive task at best. Using a service such as PayPal makes it possible to accept virtually any form of credit or debit card for your services, and includes dispute resolution should the need arise (and it will arise).
First you need to secure a domain name for your website. Then find a hosting service. You will want to create content for your website that is easily read and used by potential customers. If you have set prices for your services, it is best to be transparent about them. If your fees are individually based, then state that. Explain your expertise and success in the business on your "About" page. Be sure to have a "Contact" page with your information so clients can get in touch. Once your website is ready, all you have to do is market it.
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Another flexible non-phone option in the educational field is test scoring. There are a few reputable companies that do hire home-based workers to score everything from standardized tests to essays. Before you apply, you should know that ETS and Pearson (listed below) do require that you have certain qualifications and/or past teaching experience before they'll let you become a scorer. WriteScore on the other hand requires just a two-year college degree.